Almost exactly a year ago, in February 2017, your writer was chatting with Murder on the Orient Express director-star Kenneth Branagh on the London set of his star-studded Agatha Christie adaptation, in which the famed thesp plays Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The film was released just nine months later and proved such a commercial success that a sequel — Death on the Nile — is already in the pipeline. Murder on the Orient Express itself is steaming onto digital on Tuesday and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
“Sometimes you get a certain kind of wind in your sails,” says Branagh, whose film stars Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Judi Dench, among others. “When Fox wanted to make Murder on the Orient Express, there was a terrific amount of enthusiasm, and I couldn’t go at the time they wanted; I was doing a theater season in the West End of London. So, when I became free to do it, they were very keen to get this movie out there and at the time of year when it was released. Somehow those autumn and winter days seem to be good ones in which to be watching a story set in the cold, often at night, across a glamorous bit of Europe, featuring a train and a great journey, and a gallery of exotic characters. It felt like that was a movie for the winter or the onset of winter. So, I think everybody was keen to make that happen and I was very glad that we had a smooth passage. Things don’t always go this way on movies, but here the combination of talents and good fortune and creative coalescing did indeed occur. It had a kind of pace that the movie had as well.”
Despite the swift production of the film — which was penned by Logan and Blade Runner 2049 co-writer Michael Green — Branagh claims the finished result met and exceeded his dreams.
“It was way beyond what I imagined,” says the filmmaker, whose previous blockbuster directing credits include Thor and Cinderella. “I was so thrilled with what the art department did with how immersive we were in our mountainous and snowy landscape, how the heat of Jerusalem at the beginning of the movie feels so real and so very much in the spirit of Christie, who went on all these wild and extravagant journeys and vividly puts you there in the books. And then I was really beyond happy with the performances of this dynamite cast. For me, they did that thing of striking the sort of vivid impression that Agatha Christie makes with these characters, but allowing a reality and a passion, and overwhelmingly, and bringing an emotional quality to the picture that is very surprising by the end.”
Watch the trailer for Murder on the Orient Express below and an exclusive deleted scene from Branagh’s film above.
Murder on the Orient Express will be released digitally on Tuesday and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on Tuesday, Feb. 27.